PDA

View Full Version : Citizens vs. Soldiers: The Growing Cultural Divide



Wana88
03-01-2009, 07:23 PM
Interesting article, titled "Duties That Are Best Shared" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022702953.html) from The Washington Post By Matthew Bogdanos
(Sunday, March 1, 2009; A17)
"Send in the Marines" has been uttered by every president since Thomas Jefferson sent a detachment of leathernecks to the shores of Tripoli in 1801. These words are likely to be uttered in the next four years -- of special interest to me as a Marine who has served multiple combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Veteran status is no guarantor of a leader's successful use of the military, of course; nor is its absence necessarily a harbinger of misuse. But in the 1970s, 74 percent of Congress had prior military service. Today: 23 percent. Barack Obama, though clearly respectful of the military, has never served in the military and has only two veterans in his Cabinet -- the fewest since Herbert Hoover. By contrast, John Kennedy, decorated for heroism in World War II, had only two Cabinet members who were not veterans.
...
The solution is an educated citizenry that understands its soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines -- understands that we are you.

Matthew Bogdanos, the author of "Thieves of Baghdad," is a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and an assistant district attorney for New York City.

This thoughtful piece written by a Marine Colonel who has drunk deep at the well of liberty and the Constitution, highlights a disturbing -growing-- cultural divide: one group (the citizen-soldier)espousing the importance of "honor, sacrifice and country;" while the other -much larger segment- advocates immediate gratification, narcissistic self indulgence and political correctness (Soviet era lexicon) all in the name of "freedom." The latter group not forced to make any sacrifices as once famously advocated by JFK and Jefferson, and blinded by short sighted indulgences, doesn't recognize the grave peril we face. Our enemies watch in wonderment and rejoice: we are our own worst enemies thanks to a seemingly blind majority. Our most famous Citizen-Soldier and Founding Father George Washington must be turning in his grave.

jmm99
03-02-2009, 01:06 AM
of the American People, but do not want to dispute that. I thought the Marine-lawyer made many good points (not the least of which is that the military is better educated than the general population).

These two points, however, I found very telling:


But if we limit the warrior ideal's physical courage to an isolated subculture of military, police and firefighters, focusing them solely on this virtue, we risk cultivating doers less tolerant of different lifestyles or ways of thinking. And if we limit aesthetic appreciation to the world of academics and economic elites, never encouraging them to roll up their own sleeves, we risk fostering gifted thinkers great on nuance but subject to paralysis by analysis.

Or worse. This artificial separation forces us to confront global terrorism with either the compassionate consensus of the whole-food collective or the indiscriminate anger of the lynch mob -- failures both. "War is an ugly thing," British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote about the American Civil War, "but not the ugliest of things: the decayed . . . feeling which thinks nothing worth war is worse." We must, instead, face terrorism's cult of death with hard steel, informed strategies and a rock-solid code of shared societal behavior to defeat those whose defining feature is the absence of honor.

Instead, we (civilians) were told to go shopping - a failure of leadership vis a vis the civilian population that still continues.

COL Bogdanos' overall theme that there must be better military-civilian communication is preaching to my choir (more than one of my posts have emphasized that).

Schmedlap
03-02-2009, 03:40 AM
Instead, we (civilians) were told to go shopping - a failure of leadership vis a vis the civilian population that still continues.
I don't buy that. It was one of many things said, but far from the only thing. Americans were urged to put their talents to use in support of our fight. Some did. Some didn't. And some others did the opposite - seeking cheap political points rather than seeking to contribute something productive. They responded with slanders against the President, shameless anti-American propaganda, attempting to politicize the military, and criticizing every step of the effort, whether the criticism was legitimate or not and whether each step was proper or not. I no more blame the civilian leadership for the pathetic behavior of some of this country's citizens any more than I blame Allah for my Iraqi Army counterparts' lack of punctuality.

jmm99
03-02-2009, 05:30 AM
from Schmedlap
And some others did the opposite - seeking cheap political points rather than seeking to contribute something productive. They responded with slanders against the President, shameless anti-American propaganda, attempting to politicize the military, and criticizing every step of the effort, whether the criticism was legitimate or not and whether each step was proper or not. I no more blame the civilian leadership for the pathetic behavior of some of this country's citizens any more than I blame Allah for my Iraqi Army counterparts' lack of punctuality.

What I am blaming the leadership today for is the same thing that I blamed the leadership for in Vietnam - the leadership's concept that you can have a serious long-term war while everyone at home goes on with life as though no war exists ("guns and butter" in my dads's words).

ODB
03-02-2009, 06:18 AM
This gets to the heart of it. Who has been impacted by the war besides servicemembers and their families? As a society there have not been sacrifices as a whole. One of questions for years has been why over the years has the American society started to veiw soldiers as second class citizens?

Stephen King:
I donít want to sound like an ad, a public service ad on TV, but the fact is if you can read, you can walk into a job later on. If you donít, then youíve got, the Army, Iraq, I donít know, something like that. Itís, itís not as bright. So, thatís my little commercial for that.

I have lost count the number of people who have said "I'm sorry that you have to go back to Iraq" when they find out I'm in the military. I usually respond with "I'm not. Why be sorry? I choose to do this." Most look shocked and can't believe it. It still amazes me to this day.

Ratzel
03-02-2009, 06:46 AM
What I am blaming the leadership today for is the same thing that I blamed the leadership for in Vietnam - the leadership's concept that you can have a serious long-term war while everyone at home goes on with life as though no war exists ("guns and butter" in my dads's words).

I think you're half right. The Vietnam era civilian leadership definitely didn't fight to win the war. Johnson didn't want to redirect resources from the so called "Great Society." I think the book "On Strategy" by Ltc. Summers covered this in detail.

However, as for the non-war fighting pubic, I think they were too involved in the war. Because the middle class and elite kids were not sent to war, they felt guilty. Because of this they were swept away by the anti-war movement. If all the kids had went, the guilt wouldn't have existed. The Red Diaper Babies on campus would have been beaten like dogs, and the ROTC would have never been burnt down.

The American people can't handle the realities of war. They should be insulated from it as much as possible. However, the men and women who do fight should be taken care of above anyone in this country. If there's one group of people who truly are "entitled" in this country, its the warfighters and their families. For the rest of the population its bread and circuses (or beer and football).

The only contribution that should be taken from the non-war fighting public is their taxes. You can't have "tax breaks" while we fight a war. Nothing is more annoying than hearing some "Conservative" on TV talking about how "we're in a fight for civilization" and then go on in the next sentence about "tax cuts." If we're really in a fight for "civilization" then I think maybe we can raise taxes? We should at least raise taxes on the top 2-5%. If the working and middle classes can fight America's wars, then I think the upper classes can pay for them?

Here's a summery.

The American people should stick to "Dancing with the Stars" and Happy Meals and think about war as little as possible. It really shouldn't be a problem that our civilian leadership never served, but they must never be involved in planning or carrying out combat operations (e.g., Kissinger in Vietnam). The working and middle classes will fight the wars, so the top 5% should pay for them.

Ken White
03-02-2009, 06:51 AM
What I am blaming the leadership today for is the same thing that I blamed the leadership for in Vietnam - the leadership's concept that you can have a serious long-term war while everyone at home goes on with life as though no war exists ("guns and butter" in my dads's words).Guns and Butter, I mean.

Same thing happened during WW II -- was there rationing and were there shortages of some things, were all the men and a lot of women gone off to war somewhere? Sure but life was remarkably unchanged from 1939. Only after the war (with no more Depression) did most realize they'd been restricted a fair bit.

Korea was pure guns and butter, so was Viet Nam. Not much worse this time than those two -- but the troops got to l9ive better in Viet Nam than they had in Korea and today's live better than the VN era. Progress... ;)

In none of those wars or this one did the leadership really know how long it would last and IMO anyone who tells you that they could've predicted even the approximate length of any of them at the start is either amazingly prescient or a liar. Sure, we all know now -- ain't hindsight wonderful? Anyway, I'm quite unsure what imposing stringent measures or even mild restrictions of any kind on the populace would accomplish

I think the problem is that the Armed Forces want to act like they're a part of mainstream America and that coupled with the fact that people on both sides of the aisle try to not disparage the troops leads all to want to think we're a big happy family with some members off doing things the rest would rather not do but that just isn't correct as a view. We should all be in this together sort of thing. That has never happened in this country in my 75 years nor in reading of history of earlier wars. People in the service and out express a wish that it were different. Why? What would we do to make it different? Make people give up things just do we could say we did? That's real smart...

The disconnect between the Armed Forces and 'society' has been there all my life and I doubt it will change. The Armed forces should acknowledge that and avoid building up an idea that those who serve are just like everyone else -- because they aren't. If they get out, they can be again -- but while you're in, you are not like other Americans. Anyone uncomfortable with that ought to find other employment. It's not a big deal but it isn't a normal life. Period. It is my belief that the Armed forces do themselves a disservice by trying to be like everyone else -- changing that would hurt retention. Slightly. That's okay, most of those who'd leave aren't that happy with what they're doing anyway. They get up to 17 years or so in and do not want to make any waves, they just want to coast and depart. There aren't that many of those, fortunately and the few who'd leave aren't much loss.

Most of the folks I served with, Marines and Army, had no particular problems with all that and most of us were just happy (or at least okay with the thought) that we were picking up the slack so that Cousin Jack or Uncle Bud didn't have to. All of us were glad to get back to the big PX and get a Milk Shake and a decent Hamburger. It was a shock to see the attitudes and relative comfort (everyone is chubby :eek:...) -- but that usually wore off and one assimilated in a couple of months. There were a few that grumbled loudly -- but those were the kinds of folks that didn't even like themselves, much less anyone else.

It would be nice if more law and policy makers had some military experience but it wouldn't make much difference in the long run. I suppose it would be nice if Mr. and Mrs. America sacrificed more and were more empathetic to the real issues affecting troops committed to combat -- but I'm totally unsure what that would mean or why it might be construed to make any difference in anything that counted. Much less what they might do that would contribute anything.

I always looked it with a view that I was a professional, had a job that was sometimes onerous, sometimes dangerous, sometimes not fun but mostly was fun and I did not care what what the public did or, really, thought about it. I realize not everyone looked at it that way and I spent time telling the younger guys (including a very few that were drafted -- most of whom took it all better than their younger regular fellow Troopies) not to lose sleep over the fact that they were where they were and Joe and Mary Sixpack were where they were. That was the way it was -- nothing to fret about and we weren't going to change it. How would we change it if we could? What should be done?

I never got a good answer to those questions.

ODB
03-02-2009, 06:55 AM
The only person I stay in touch with from school was the one who joined the Marines.......

Ken White
03-02-2009, 07:11 AM
I think the book "On Strategy" by Ltc. Summers covered this in detail.Summers got more wrong than he did right. His 'strategy' was for a war that didn't exist.
However, as for the non-war fighting pubic, I think they were too involved in the war. Because the middle class and elite kids were not sent to war, they felt guilty. Because of this they were swept away by the anti-war movement. If all the kids had went, the guilt wouldn't have existed. The Red Diaper Babies on campus would have been beaten like dogs, and the ROTC would have never been burnt down.Having been around then, I know that's specious.
The American people can't handle the realities of war. They should be insulated from it as much as possible. However, the men and women who do fight should be taken care of above anyone in this country. If there's one group of people who truly are "entitled" in this country, its the warfighters and their families. For the rest of the population its bread and circuses (or beer and football).This is the suggestion I say is completely wrong.

First, the American people handle war very well. If they did not we wouldn't have so many and they wouldn't last as long as they do. Insulating them from war is directly opposite of what should be done. The dipwad politicians try that in every war; the insulation stupidity and it always fails. I don't know about your warfighting experience but I've got over six years worth plus another 24 years of service and your comment that warfighters are the only people who are truly entitled in this country is flat wrong. In fact, in my book, it's insulting to anyone who has gone off and fought.

Every American citizen is as entitled as every other American citizen to opportunity to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as they see it. If you've been off fighting a war, you did it just so that could be the case and you have a greater obligation to insure that it remains true than did those who did not go.

The sentiment you express may sit well in another country but it is totally inappropriate in this one IMO.

The rest of your post doesn't merit much comment as it is a totally unworkable idea..

Ken White
03-02-2009, 07:23 AM
...One of questions for years has been why over the years has the American society started to veiw soldiers as second class citizens? ...
I usually respond with "I'm not. Why be sorry? I choose to do this." Most look shocked and can't believe it. It still amazes me to this day...The only person I stay in touch with from school was the one who joined the MarinesYou just made my point...

""The disconnect between the Armed Forces and 'society' has been there all my life and I doubt it will change."" :cool:

Only thing I'd note in your first sentence I quoted above is that you might say 'some' Americans in the society -- because that's what happens to be true. Most Americans don't view soldiers that way, just a select (in their own minds) few. Most of those from that crowd who got caught up in WW II were accepting but as they die off, their heirs have no experience and only know what they read in the paper. That was true before WW II and was again true by about 1975 or so as the WW II crowd faded from public view and the Baby Boomers took over; those folks were the Pepsi generation and were not into military stuff. That's okay. Really. They don't have to like me -- and I don't have to like them... ;)

Schmedlap
03-02-2009, 01:38 PM
What I am blaming the leadership today for is the same thing that I blamed the leadership for in Vietnam - the leadership's concept that you can have a serious long-term war while everyone at home goes on with life as though no war exists ("guns and butter" in my dads's words).
I don't even buy that. Our economy has been large and dynamic enough that it could support the "guns and butter" approach (fighting a war and maintaining a relatively unchanged standard of living, in economic terms). But this type of war required other changes on the homefront - primarily those pertaining to security. The leadership did implement changes at home and those changes were met with outrage, resistance, and protest.

I think the civilian leaders expected that civilians would understand that removing one's shoes at the airport was just an inconvenience that would need to be tolerated, given the events of 9/11 and suspected plots afterwards. If one's international call from Las Vegas to cousin Ahmed in Lahore is listened in on, then they thought we could grin and bear it. If a suspected terrorist and/or al-Qaeda operative in Gitmo had his thermostat set to 66 instead of 68 and his Halal meal was served 5 minutes late, then they didn't think that people would get their panties in a twist. Instead, people complain about airport security as though they were being told to walk instead of fly. Foreign surveillance is cast as some Big Brother attempt by Dick Cheney to personally listen in on your social life. And handling detainees at Gitmo in a fashion probably more humane than any prisoners of war have ever been treated in human history is regarded as a war crime that destroys our moral fiber as a nation. They complained that this war was being fought by the underclass (a false accusation to begin with), but their solution was not to sign up and join the fight - instead they mocked the CinC, the military, and the war.

The most minor of inconveniences and slightest of intrusions have been met with outrage. Our civilian leaders asked people to rise to the occasion. Some did. For the others, only the slightest of inconveniences were foisted upon them and they rebelled. The war became an occasion for people who are normally content to simply be parasites to morph into carnivores. Pathetic.

Bob's World
03-02-2009, 02:36 PM
It is probably fair to posit that we will continue to move deeper into a era where our nation is largely at peace, yet our military is largely engaged in dangerous duties on the edges of the "empire." Such is the soldier's lot.

Do not expect the American people to go about thinking all day every day that they are at war. They are not at war and don't think about what the military is doing in those terms. It is DoD that is pushing hard (against virtually universal resistance and rejection) for a concept of perpetual, irregular warfare to attempt to address this apparent disconnect between the military's activities and the populace's perception. I doubt it will ever catch on, and personally hope that it does not.

Our military will be engaged in conflicts, our nation will be at peace. Instead of agonizing over "why the civilians don't understand and respect what we are doing," DoD would be better served by instead working to better understand the Populace they serve and seeking to describe our activities on their behalf in language that puts it in their terms; not trying to force them to ours.

Perhaps the problem with our all volunteer force is not that the civilians don't understand the military, perhaps the problem is that the military does not understand the populace? I was always taught that if you and your boss don't see things the same way, it was incumbent on you to confrom to the boss, not the other way around.

Just something to consider.

Steve Blair
03-02-2009, 03:02 PM
Perhaps the problem with our all volunteer force is not that the civilians don't understand the military, perhaps the problem is that the military does not understand the populace? I was always taught that if you and your boss don't see things the same way, it was incumbent on you to confrom to the boss, not the other way around.

Just something to consider.

I think this cuts closer to the truth than many might want to believe. One question I have to answer with every new PCS cycle here is "you don't get a housing allowance?", usually accompanied by gasps. I also think that far too many people listen too seriously to the sample of talking heads that appear on the newscasts and take them for the "common man," yet are quick to become outraged if one soldier's comment is taken as representative of the Army as a whole. Most of the people I know don't complain about security...they complain about the idiots DHS likes to plant in airports.

It's easy for the military to want to turn on the populace. But it would also serve the military well to remember that their position as a respected and trusted part of the American social landscape is a very recent development in historical terms. It's also a very dangerous thing to dismiss the folks who write your paycheck.

Boot
03-02-2009, 04:42 PM
One of questions for years has been why over the years has the American society started to veiw soldiers as second class citizens?

ODB,
I have been told that I was no better than a welfare recipient on a few occasions while traveling by my fellow citizens. One particular person who was so sure of his own abilities ended up with a broken nose and Jack and coke all over him. He won the jerk of the year award from me. Usually though I keep my cool and tactfully in a academic manner explain to them what it is I do. Their view typically is that Govt. job=welfare. One guy didn't realize he had a grant from the Govt. until we discussed what he did, so I asked him if he were a welfare recipient.

Boot

Entropy
03-02-2009, 11:24 PM
Perhaps the problem with our all volunteer force is not that the civilians don't understand the military, perhaps the problem is that the military does not understand the populace? I was always taught that if you and your boss don't see things the same way, it was incumbent on you to confrom to the boss, not the other way around.

Just something to consider.

I think there's some truth to that, and for some evidence one can look at recruiting and ROTC, both of which are increasingly regional. Same with ROTC programs. If our focus for accessions is biased toward certain demographics, then it seems reasonable to suggest that might be one source for a disconnect.

Ratzel
03-04-2009, 05:21 AM
1) Summers got more wrong than he did right. His 'strategy' was for a war that didn't exist.Having been around then, I know that's specious.This is the suggestion I say is completely wrong.


2) First, the American people handle war very well. If they did not we wouldn't have so many and they wouldn't last as long as they do. Insulating them from war is directly opposite of what should be done. The dipwad politicians try that in every war; the insulation stupidity and it always fails. I don't know about your warfighting experience but I've got over six years worth plus another 24 years of service and your comment that warfighters are the only people who are truly entitled in this country is flat wrong. In fact, in my book, it's insulting to anyone who has gone off and fought.

3) Every American citizen is as entitled as every other American citizen to opportunity to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as they see it. If you've been off fighting a war, you did it just so that could be the case and you have a greater obligation to insure that it remains true than did those who did not go.

4) The sentiment you express may sit well in another country but it is totally inappropriate in this one IMO.

5) The rest of your post doesn't merit much comment as it is a totally unworkable idea..



1) I'm not going to argue Summer's main thesis, but are you saying the civilian leadership did do an adequate job in Vietnam?

2) The American people handle war when its going good and start crying when its going bad. They're better off not thinking about it. I certainly don't believe that war-fighters are "the ONLY" group that are truly entitled, just more so than others. As far as you being "insulted," I don't know why? I just believe that soldiers, vets, and their families should be taken care of before any other "interest group." I apologize if this is offensive.

3) I'm not sure why you're telling me this? But since you mentioned it, if I had it my way I would require voters to take a literacy/civics test that costs about $100. Anyone who doesn't know who the vice president is, or, who can't scrape up $100 (every 10 years) wouldn't be allowed to vote.

4) What sentiment are you talking about?

5) I'm not sure what you're talking about here? What exactly is the "totally unworkable idea."

Ken White
03-04-2009, 06:07 AM
1) I'm not going to argue Summer's main thesis, but are you saying the civilian leadership did do an adequate job in Vietnam?No, merely that Summers got more wrong in that book than he got right. In fairness, as he got older he changed some of his positions and thus got smarter, I guess one could say.

The civilian leadership screwed up and the military leadership screwed up. Tossup on which was worse. I fault the military more because they had an obligation to the nation to do it right or explain why they couldn't -- and they did not. Just as they screwed up initially in Iraq.
2) The American people handle war when its going good and start crying when its going bad. They're better off not thinking about it.I disagree. The 1/3 rule applies. 1/3 will object to a war, they will be from the political party opposite the one that started the war. 1/3 will support it and they will be from the party that started the war. The other third, the big middle, will waffle back an forth depending on how the war is going; if it's going good they'll be okay. If it is not going good, they'll gripe. Thus, if a war is not going well, about 2/3 will be complaining -- crying as you put it. That's been pretty much true in all our wars all the way back to the revolution. There are a few nuts on each end, some people are truly anti-war and oppose all wars -- that's their right. there are a few that want more wars (some of those will be in uniform, some not).
I certainly don't believe that war-fighters are "the ONLY" group that are truly entitled, just more so than others. As far as you being "insulted," I don't know why? I just believe that soldiers, vets, and their families should be taken care of before any other "interest group." I apologize if this is offensive.You're entitled to your beliefs. Thatr's all any of us are really entitled to -- all the rest SOMEBODY pays for.

I strongly disagree with you on two counts. The guys who serve are well compensated for what they do. It is not an 'entitlement' -- it is compensation, timely and deferred, for service. They deserve what they get but no more. They like every other American are 'entitled' to a fair shake on life. No more and no less.
3) I'm not sure why you're telling me this? But since you mentioned it, if I had it my way I would require voters to take a literacy/civics test that costs about $100. Anyone who doesn't know who the vice president is, or, who can't scrape up $100 (every 10 years) wouldn't be allowed to vote.You might want to give that some thought. I understand where you're coming from and agree with the goal or desire it expresses but I don't think that passes the fairness test. I also wonder how many people who don't wnat to spend a hundred bucks of their money will get a hundred from someone else and vote the way the payer wanted them to...
4) What sentiment are you talking about?I was referring to the sentiment that you expressed in this quote from your earlier post:
""If there's one group of people who truly are "entitled" in this country, its the warfighters and their families. For the rest of the population its bread and circuses (or beer and football)...The only contribution that should be taken from the non-war fighting public is their taxes."''As I said, in my opinion, the sentiments expressed in either of those two sentences is not in keeping with any American values I ever knew. I guess mt wife qualifies as one of those family members you cited -- she doesn't think much of the idea. I'm being polite there.
5) I'm not sure what you're talking about here? What exactly is the "totally unworkable idea."Your 'tax' ideas.

You're entitled to your opinions and to express them but I do have two suggestions. First, every American is entitled to their own ideas and to state them but I suggest you might really want to give serious thought to the 'soldiers and their families are special' and your tax thoughts -- not least because there are, proportionally, as many kids of that top income batch as there are 'working class' people in the services. Everybody can't be a soldier...

Secondly, if I thought most Americans are as bad as you say, I wouldn't stay here.

Fortunately, I'm pretty sure they aren't so I can stay...

Steve Blair
03-04-2009, 03:36 PM
Ok...since there's a fair amount of what seems to be civilian-bashing included in this thread, let's take a moment to examine how some folks end up interacting with military personnel. Perceptions go both ways, you know.

Take "Joe Smith," for example. He grew up in a smallish town just down the road from a major military installation. When he was in high school he had to compete for dates with high-paid (compared to what he could make in his after school job) military types who liked to date high school girls. They had cars, they had beer...you name it. Later, "Joe" marries and has daughters...who he's now afraid will get knocked up by some over-testosterone endowed military type from down the road who will then cop an immediate assignment elsewhere leaving him holding the bag. He's not a fan of the military, and feels that he has every good reason to feel that way. Never mind that his experience has been limited.

Overdrawn? Sure...but no more so than some of the rants about "typical" civilians I've seen here. It's those "typical" folks who some people seem to despise who pay for all your entitlements...and don't kid yourselves: military compensation these days is damned good...better than it ever has been and far better than you'll see in the real private sector. For the most part they pay without complaining (Nixon's "silent majority" comment has a great deal of validity) and certainly don't treat military members like they did sixty years ago. It's easy and tempting to cherry-pick your examples, and I could point out a number of military types I've seen over the years who were just getting over on the government...and an equal number of civilian types who did more or less the same thing.

But there are always the good ones out there, and the folks who may not fall into either camp but will offer you a military discount even though their store is in trouble and you make more than they do.

Steve Blair
03-04-2009, 03:38 PM
I think there's some truth to that, and for some evidence one can look at recruiting and ROTC, both of which are increasingly regional. Same with ROTC programs. If our focus for accessions is biased toward certain demographics, then it seems reasonable to suggest that might be one source for a disconnect.

It's both regional and social, I think. Air Force ROTC seems to skew more toward a specific academic demographic (engineers), but the kids who apply are more of a self-selected demographic. We get those who come in for the college money, and then we get the others who WANT to be in the military, and will shift over to the Army if for some reason they can't enter our program. Again, I'd say this is just a return to the old model of recruiting...old as in before World War II.

ODB
03-05-2009, 05:02 AM
Ok...since there's a fair amount of what seems to be civilian-bashing included in this thread, let's take a moment to examine how some folks end up interacting with military personnel. Perceptions go both ways, you know.

Take "Joe Smith," for example. He grew up in a smallish town just down the road from a major military installation. When he was in high school he had to compete for dates with high-paid (compared to what he could make in his after school job) military types who liked to date high school girls. They had cars, they had beer...you name it. Later, "Joe" marries and has daughters...who he's now afraid will get knocked up by some over-testosterone endowed military type from down the road who will then cop an immediate assignment elsewhere leaving him holding the bag. He's not a fan of the military, and feels that he has every good reason to feel that way. Never mind that his experience has been limited.

Overdrawn? Sure...but no more so than some of the rants about "typical" civilians I've seen here. It's those "typical" folks who some people seem to despise who pay for all your entitlements...and don't kid yourselves: military compensation these days is damned good...better than it ever has been and far better than you'll see in the real private sector. For the most part they pay without complaining (Nixon's "silent majority" comment has a great deal of validity) and certainly don't treat military members like they did sixty years ago. It's easy and tempting to cherry-pick your examples, and I could point out a number of military types I've seen over the years who were just getting over on the government...and an equal number of civilian types who did more or less the same thing.

But there are always the good ones out there, and the folks who may not fall into either camp but will offer you a military discount even though their store is in trouble and you make more than they do.

Point well made. I may be an exception to many. I hate the Soldier at the mall, Wal-Mart, Lowe's etc.... in uniform. Especially PT uniforms. Unlike many who believe this projects a good image for the military. Generally the ones I see doing it are not the ones you want projecting that image, but save that for another day and another time. However this does coincide with your getting over statement, when it is 1100 a.m. and they are cruising the mall in uniform. Great role model!!!! Ever seen the UPS, FEDEX, Postal Worker cruising around after work in uniform? Wonder why?

As far as military discounts are concerned.....never take them and never will. It's my job, does not make me one bit more special than the next guy. I guess it comes down to personalities, I'm not the guy who needs the big parades, speeches, and recognition. Unfortunately some feel civilians owe them that.

Final comment, is my military compensation enough for the times I've missed? Been home for 2 of my daughters 10 birthdays and missed 5 of the last 7 Christmases? Again not complaining one bit because I agree that we are being paid well and I did volunteer, but just thought about the compensation.

Ratzel
03-05-2009, 05:13 AM
1) No, merely that Summers got more wrong in that book than he got right. In fairness, as he got older he changed some of his positions and thus got smarter, I guess one could say.

2) The civilian leadership screwed up and the military leadership screwed up. Tossup on which was worse. I fault the military more because they had an obligation to the nation to do it right or explain why they couldn't -- and they did not. Just as they screwed up initially in Iraq.I disagree. The 1/3 rule applies. 1/3 will object to a war, they will be from the political party opposite the one that started the war. 1/3 will support it and they will be from the party that started the war. The other third, the big middle, will waffle back an forth depending on how the war is going; if it's going good they'll be okay. If it is not going good, they'll gripe. Thus, if a war is not going well, about 2/3 will be complaining -- crying as you put it. That's been pretty much true in all our wars all the way back to the revolution. There are a few nuts on each end, some people are truly anti-war and oppose all wars -- that's their right. there are a few that want more wars (some of those will be in uniform, some not).You're entitled to your beliefs. Thatr's all any of us are really entitled to -- all the rest SOMEBODY pays for.

3) I strongly disagree with you on two counts. The guys who serve are well compensated for what they do. It is not an 'entitlement' -- it is compensation, timely and deferred, for service. They deserve what they get but no more. They like every other American are 'entitled' to a fair shake on life. No more and no less.You might want to give that some thought. I understand where you're coming from and agree with the goal or desire it expresses but I don't think that passes the fairness test. I also wonder how many people who don't wnat to spend a hundred bucks of their money will get a hundred from someone else and vote the way the payer wanted them to...I was referring to the sentiment that you expressed in this quote from your earlier post:As I said, in my opinion, the sentiments expressed in either of those two sentences is not in keeping with any American values I ever knew. I guess mt wife qualifies as one of those family members you cited -- she doesn't think much of the idea. I'm being polite there.Your 'tax' ideas.

4)You're entitled to your opinions and to express them but I do have two suggestions. First, every American is entitled to their own ideas and to state them but I suggest you might really want to give serious thought to the 'soldiers and their families are special' and your tax thoughts -- not least because there are, proportionally, as many kids of that top income batch as there are 'working class' people in the services. Everybody can't be a soldier...

5)Secondly, if I thought most Americans are as bad as you say, I wouldn't stay here.

Fortunately, I'm pretty sure they aren't so I can stay...

1) I'll assume you know more than I do regarding Vietnam. It seemed to me as if the military was never allowed to go "all the way" in developing a strategy for that war? Perhaps no one in the military demanded this?

2) I think you may have point here with this 1/3 concept.

3) In the United States we have many groups who extract economic rents from the government. Some groups deserve more than others. Taking care of combat soldiers and their families is one way of attracting people to the military, and most importantly, seems to be the honnorable thing to do? When I read about soldier's families living on food stamps, or veterans getting the run-around at the VA, it disappoints me. It especially disappoints me when I read about other groups that get taken care of or "bailed out" while combat soldiers do not. I should mention that in my own experiences I feel the federal government has treated me very good (education benefits, health care).

As far as my voting plan goes, I'm not sure what "fairness" you're talking about? The way I see it, if you can't pass a simple civics test in English and come with $100 every ten years, then you shouldn't have much of a say in what happens in this country. And while someone could pay for someone's vote under my plan, they can do so today as well.

4) I pretty sure that you're wrong about the same proportion of the rich serving as the working and middle classes? This is something we'll have to find data on to confirm.

5) Nowhere did I say Americans are "bad." I can go on for a long time on why I think America is a better place to live than anywhere else. I just don't think Americans handle war very well. In fact, most of the Western world doesn't handle war very well. Somehow the West went from a people that thought its destiny was to conquer the world to being conquered by political correctness and decadence. Given the Zeitgeist of today, do you think we could conquer North America like the early Americans did? The allies killed 130,000 Germans in a day at Dresden, and the US vaporized 200,000 Japanese with the two atom bombs. This could never happen today. We could have ended our "problems" in Iraq and Afghanistan in no time if we still had the will that we had back in WWII.

I believe its WILL that wins wars (this isn't a new idea of course), and I see very little of it in the West today.

Ken White
03-05-2009, 06:08 AM
Re: Viet Nam. The Armed forces do not demand. This country has civilians firmly in control of the military and most everyone likes it that way. They were not allowed to 'go all the way' or even part way. It was a war of limited objective that was deliberately constrained for several reasons. Poor civilian -- and military -- policies made that situation worse than it needed to be.

I agree with you on the food stamps and poor treatment but some of that is due to individual failures and not system screwups -- though those also occur. All things considered, the system is reasonably fair and no one is getting screwed. Nor is anyone getting special bennies -- and I do not think anyone should.

Many think all official business in this country should be conducted only in English but every time that gets to a vote in Congress or in this or that State, it gets tromped. So you may think your proposal is fair but I do not think many will agree. I don't.

Depends on what you call rich I suppose. My point is that in 45 years in or around the Army and with three sons who served, on of whom is still serving their and my perception is that the Army pretty well represents all classes of society in this country.

As for American handling war well, may be a function of where you live and / or what you watch or read. Basically, I think the 1/3 rule pretty well covers it -- that and the two year rule. That rule says Americans will give a war two years; if it then looks like it's not doing well, they start getting upset. That rule also has strong historical validation.

Steve Blair
03-05-2009, 02:24 PM
Final comment, is my military compensation enough for the times I've missed? Been home for 2 of my daughters 10 birthdays and missed 5 of the last 7 Christmases? Again not complaining one bit because I agree that we are being paid well and I did volunteer, but just thought about the compensation.

Quite true, and it's also important to remember that there are a number of private sector jobs that hit people with the same sorts of thing (or private sector jobs that don't go far enough and people have to take two jobs or more to make ends meet...not an uncommon thing at the institution I work for). Not saying it's a good thing in either case, but just sayin' that it's not unique to the military. No compensation is good enough to deal with that, IMO, but as the old saying goes it comes with the territory. And unfair territory it often is.:)

Schmedlap
03-05-2009, 10:52 PM
I hate the Soldier at the mall, Wal-Mart, Lowe's etc.... in uniform. Especially PT uniforms. Unlike many who believe this projects a good image for the military. Generally the ones I see doing it are not the ones you want projecting that image, but save that for another day and another time.
I've been out of the Army for nearly a year now. But two weeks ago I saw two Air Force Reservists in dirty uniforms (not knocking the AF or Reserves - it was just their day), one with his pants unbloused, both were overweight, and neither was wearing a cover. I'm not sure what the Air Force regs are regarding hats/berets/etc, so I didn't bother with that one. But, even though I'm no longer in the military (don't even owe IRR time), I nearly lost it and chewed their asses for a good two minutes in that Best Buy parking lot. I was wearing a suit, but I think just by the manner in which I yelled at them they figured I was still in the military. In any case, they knew that they were dicked up and didn't have much to say other than "yes, sir."


Taking care of combat soldiers and their families is one way of attracting people to the military, and most importantly, seems to be the honnorable thing to do? When I read about soldier's families living on food stamps, or veterans getting the run-around at the VA, it disappoints me.

I would say that we're already doing a very good job of taking care of combat Soldiers, as well as the non-combat variety. It should not done with the intent of attracting people, though. It should be because of what you went on to state: it is the honorable thing to do. Recruitment should not be geared towards attracting people with pay or rewards. It should entice people to serve by instilling in them a desire to do so for its own reward.

Entropy
03-06-2009, 12:34 AM
I've been out of the Army for nearly a year now. But two weeks ago I saw two Air Force Reservists in dirty uniforms (not knocking the AF or Reserves - it was just their day), one with his pants unbloused, both were overweight, and neither was wearing a cover. I'm not sure what the Air Force regs are regarding hats/berets/etc, so I didn't bother with that one. But, even though I'm no longer in the military (don't even owe IRR time), I nearly lost it and chewed their asses for a good two minutes in that Best Buy parking lot. I was wearing a suit, but I think just by the manner in which I yelled at them they figured I was still in the military. In any case, they knew that they were dicked up and didn't have much to say other than "yes, sir."

Uniform regs in the AF aren't materially different from the other services, so you were right correct them and furthermore, thank you for doing it!

Wana88
03-06-2009, 04:18 AM
Quotes from Col Bogdanos's piece:

"Just as "Semper Fidelis" (always faithful) is not merely the Marine Corps motto but a way of life, so is honor a form of mental conditioning -- a force-multiplier: Decide in advance to act honorably, and you know without hesitation what to do in a crisis. Codes of conduct are society's version of the same conditioning."

"During the darkest days of World War II, George Orwell allowed that "we sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to do violence to those who would harm us."

"But if we limit the warrior ideal's physical courage to an isolated subculture of military, police and firefighters, focusing them solely on this virtue, we risk cultivating doers less tolerant of different lifestyles or ways of thinking. And if we limit aesthetic appreciation to the world of academics and economic elites, never encouraging them to roll up their own sleeves, we risk fostering gifted thinkers great on nuance but subject to paralysis by analysis.
Or worse."

"War is an ugly thing," British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote about the American Civil War, "but not the ugliest of things: the decayed . . . feeling which thinks nothing worth war is worse."

"We must, instead, face terrorism's cult of death with hard steel, informed strategies and a rock-solid code of shared societal behavior to defeat those whose defining feature is the absence of honor."

"The solution is an educated citizenry that understands its soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines -- understands that we are you."

The comments have been lively here, with some diatribes thrown in for good measure (free therapy some would call it), but I fear the essence of what this honorable Colonel is trying to inform us on has been somewhat neglected in this discourse. A divided citizenry cannot successfully defend our way of life against enemies both foreign and domestic. As the comments here have duly noted, there is a chasm between those in uniform and the rest. It is this very chasm that our enemies seek to exploit through varied means.

If we focus on the insignificant like dress code violations, salary benefits or not and other such mundane matters, we miss the salient: we are all in this together. Our freedom as envisioned by the founding fathers depends on sacrifice by all for the common good. I fear it is this ethos that seems lost today within the general public.

As a student of the first civil war (our revolution), it is never lost on me how giants (Washington, Adams, Samuel Adams, Franklin, Jefferson et al) risked everything to serve in the name of liberty and to throw off tyranny. They knew they would hang if they failed yet these leaders shared their respective skills and wealth (these were not "welfare recipients") for liberty and freedom. Some were in uniform led by Washington himself; others duties ran the gamut from diplomacy (seeking foreign aid) to raising money for the cause of freedom. There were no guarantees and nor were they the stronger party to the conflict but their honor propelled them to live free or die.

"Dutied that are best shared" if we are to become better citizens (than the growing numbers who seek govt bailouts/handouts) inherently involve supporting/defending both our constitution and our military in whatever capacity that we are able. "Citizenship" should be earned through self imposed duties. There are countries that require two years or more of "national service" that involve a choice of duties (military included). JFK established the Peace Corps with this in mind.

The concepts of "honor, duty, responsibility and sacrifice" are learned. As parents we must teach these every day to our children. Now I'll get off my soapbox and end my diatribe. :)

Steve Blair
03-06-2009, 02:44 PM
Uniform regs in the AF aren't materially different from the other services, so you were right correct them and furthermore, thank you for doing it!

We have a recruiter around here who routinely wanders around outdoors without his cover while in uniform. Not a good image.